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Fresh from his maiden World Superbike Championship win last time out at Assen, Sylvain Guintoli has added an unexpected first pole position to his repertoire after prevailing in a damp Superpole session at Monza.

The Frenchman, together with his six Ducati counterparts, had been struggling for pace throughout the weekend as the twin-cylinder 1098R fell short on top end speed, but intermittent showers throughout the day served to level the playing field and allowed four of the Italian machines to crack the top eight.

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Even so, Guintoli's performance, which marks a maiden pole position for the Effenbert Liberty team as well, remained a surprise, his swift efforts towards the end of the session putting him a clear seven tenths up on Tom Sykes, in doing so halting the Kawasaki rider's imperious Superpole run this year.

Behind them, Marco Melandri secured a front row start in third, but it was an otherwise frustrating afternoon for pre-Superpole favourites BMW. Indeed, the manufacturer had dominated in the dry, but Michel Fabrizio, Ayrton Badovini and Leon Haslam will start 11th, 13th and 14th after being caught out in the changeable conditions.

Carlos Checa completes the front row for Althea Ducati, a substantial boost for the reigning champion after his declaration that he would likely struggle in anything other than wet weather.

Indeed, his lap was even good enough to out-qualify key title rival Max Biaggi, the Aprilia rider going sixth to share row two with Honda's Jonathan Rea, plus another two Ducati's in the form of Jakub Smrz and Davide Giugliano.

With Superpole split into two 20 minute sessions for the second round in succession, the changing conditions ensured a frantic first phase as riders jostled for the opportunity to get into the top eight shootout.

It was here where several of the expected front runners, mostly notably three of the four BMW riders, were eliminated, while Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies also saw their hard work in Q1 come to nothing as they could only manage tenth and 16th respectively.

Like Ducati, Suzuki have been suffering down the long straights, but the tricky conditions would also see them make gains in Superpole, with John Hopkins just missing out on the second row in ninth, while Leon Camier starts a respectable 12th.